Character witnesses

Inside the hearing room this afternoon, the momentum in favor of Judge Alito seemed palpable. The Republicans know that the Democrats are playing a losing hand, and the Democrats know it as well. The Republicans are enjoying themselves, while the Democrats are grasping at straws. That’s my bounce anyway.
Among the straws Democrats are grasping is Judge Alito’s alleged ethical transgression involving his holdings in a Vanguard fund at the same time he heard a case in which he subsequently recused himself. This afternoon the bloggers hosted by the Senate Republican Conference met with two liberal Democrats who have come out of the woodwork to vouch for Judge Alito on the question of his character generally and, in the case of one of these two liberals, with respect to the Vanguard matter specifically. These two gentlemen are powerful witnesses on behalf of Judge Alito.
The first of these two gentleman is former New Jersey Attorney General and former Carter-appointed United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Robert Del Tufo. He currently serves on Jon Corzine’s gubernatorial transition committee and is of counsel at Skadden Arps. Mr. Del Tufo hired Judge Alito as an assistant United States Attorney and worked with him in that capacity for almost four years. He vouched for Judge Alito as an outstanding man and attorney without reservation. He described Judge Alito as delightful, modest, self-effacing, humble and talented. He thinks that Judge Alito will make an exemplary justice and is mystified by the opposition to him. He said that Judge Alito is a good man and a good judge, and that his elevation to the Supreme Court is good for the country.
The second of these gentleman is Professor J.W. Pottenger of Yale Law School. Professor Pottenger attended both Princeton and Yale Law School with Judge Alito, and participated on the same undergraduate debate team as Judge Alito. At Yale he is a clinical professor of law; he supervises students acting as attorneys in litigation and focuses on ethical issues in the practice of law. He has known Judge Alito for 35 years. He describes himself as a liberal, but has been provoked by the fraudulence of the ethics charge against Judge Alito to rise to his defense. He harshly criticized the attack on Judge Alito as akin to the merger of law and politics that he had observed in Communist China.
We also met with three former law clerks to Judge Alito — Dana Douglas, Michael Park and Craig Gottlieb. Dana Douglas described Judge Alito as a superb professional mentor for women. They unanimously described him as respectful to employees, litigants and attorneys, hard working yet relaxed in demeanor. They believe he has exactly the right temperament to make a fine justice, treating every person with respect regardless of stature. Gottlieb, coincidentally, is a Democrat.


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